Road Side Assistance

Have you ever called for Road Side Assistance?
What did you call for?
If so, how long did it take to arrive?
How close were you to a major city?

Yesterday in the pouring rain, very near the city of Harrisburg PA, my tire blew out. I called AAA. They said someone would be there in 90 minutes.

I changed the tire myself. Getting wet and dirty sucks, but man, I don’t have the patience to wait 90 minutes for someone to come and do it for me.

I have often called AAA for a tow or similar. In fact, I have done it twice in the past week - last Friday my car broke down with my boyfriend driving it, and they towed it and we got a discount on labor for the fix. This past Friday, we had to tow his van, and we don’t know what’s wrong with it because nobody was open so it’s in our driveway. He has a magical “car breaking” field around him. We get our money’s worth from AAA every year.

Once I was in a car full of chessplayers coming back from Belgium to England. (We had used the Eurostar train to cross the Channel.)
The engine conked out on a Belgian motorway, so the driver phoned his insurance company in England.
Within 10 minutes they phoned back to explain how the car and us would be returned from mainland Europe.
Within 20 minutes the journey began:

  • tow truck to nearby Belgian garage
  • diagnosis by mechanic of serious engine problem (would take ages to fix)
  • tow truck to Begian ferry port
  • load car and us onto ferry
  • across Channel to England
  • tow truck from ferry port for car
  • free hire car for us from ferry port

Job done!

I realized I didn’t answer the essential question - generally I’ve had to wait about an hour, sometimes more like 40 minutes. Almost always for a tow. Once, however, in scary-ass downtown Atlanta I needed a jump at 11 at night and that guy was there in 9 minutes - awesome.

I only have experience with CAA, AAA’s Canadian affiliate, so there might be some discrepancies with what I know. CAA doesn’t retain its own tow trucks, they just strike up deals with local tow companies. So when you call them, they are just being the middleman between you and another company. If it’s particularly busy that night for any reason, you’re going to get a delay. After any heavy snow here CAA gets really busy.

I had gone to the gym, and when I came out the car was covered by several inches of snow. I got in, turned on the engine to warm it up, got out to clear the snow. I must have accidentally bumped the door lock on the way out. So there I was, not only with the car running, but with the CD player random-playing my chorus’s rehearsal CD at max volume. Because of the crappy weather, it was a few hours before I was rescued. At least I could wait inside the gym, but it was weird with my car running and the music playing.

There I underlined the reason you had to wait so long. Accidents happen more often in the rain than on clear sunny days. Tow companies are stretched to the limit during those times. If the company that does the auto club towing also has a contract with the local police/highway patrol, they will take the PD calls first because their contract has a performance clause that a truck has to respond with in X number of minutes.